It was midnight and a cool autumn wind rustled through the silent crowd of 1200 people gathered at the pit-head, many of them women with their children wrapped in shawls cuddled close to them.It was the night of 18th September, 1959, and the coal mine was at Auchengeich, Lanarkshire, where an inferno raged deep below.
Ronald Parker, Scottish Chairman of the National Coal Board, stepped forward and addressed the crowd, telling them that it had been decided to flood the mine to put out the fire even although 48 men were still missing.
Cries of despair and anger rent the air and under the glare of floodlights the Scottish Miners union leader Abe Moffat appealed to the crowd to go home.
Three men shouted, �Why do you tell us this now? They should never have been down there. It was the fan, the fan . . . . �
They were moved on by police.
It was believed that a faulty booster fan-belt operating electrical equipment 1400 feet underground had burst into flames and had spread fire along a gallery. Around 7am. on that fateful day - on which occurred Scotland's worst mining disaster of the 20th century - the early morning shift had just clocked on and were being carried in a small train of bogies towards the coalface.
survivor of that brief train trip was
50-year-old Big Tam Green, a 6 ft. 4�
giant from Marnoch Drive, Glenboig, who
later told how he and his mates ran into
thick, black, choking smoke.